Side Dish: Colorful books fun for football fans

Taste of the Town: A Guided Tour of college Football’s Best Places to Eat” by Todd Blackledge and J.R. Rosenthal.

Center Street/Hachette Book Group.

$20, 206-page paperback.

“The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day guide for Lovers of food, Football, & the South” by Taylor Mathis.

The University of North Carolina Press .

222-page hardcover.

Part resource and part cookbook, “Taste of the Town: A Guided Tour of College Football’s Best Places to Eat” offers a look at what’s it like on game day in 20 college towns.

In the book, Todd Blackledge explains how he went from being a college football analyst for ESPN to a food guy. The former pro football player began his popular segment “Taste of the Town” on Saturday night college football telecasts for the first game of the 2007 season, Florida State at Clemson. Since then, he’s featured almost 60 down-home restaurant picks from around the country.

His book, co-written with cookbook author and chef J.R. Rosenthal, tells about the traditions, game-day experiences and food that Blackledge particularly likes about 20 of those schools or college towns.

LSU is among his favorites and his favorite Baton Rouge game-day eateries are Walk-On’s, 3838 Burbank Drive; and Sammy’s Grill, 8635 Highland Road. Recipes from Walk-On’s include pepper Jack shrimp served over corn grits and crawfish mac ’n’ cheese, while shrimp Bienville is his choice from Sammy’s Grill.

The book also includes a chapter called “Coaches Can Cook.” It more accurately should be called “coaches’ wives can cook” since most of the recipes are from the wives. The chapter does offer a peek at what Les Miles likes for game day — tuna relish. And, the recipe makes it obvious Miles hasn’t been in Louisiana long enough to learn how to properly season a dish. It doesn’t include pepper or hot sauce.

In “The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, & the South,” author and blogger Taylor Ma this, of Charlotte, N.C., offers sports fans plenty of tailgating recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Mathis traveled to college campuses in 12 states during his tailgating tour to learn about their game-day traditions and food.

“The recipes include family favorites and dishes inspired by what I saw tailgaters making and serving at sites across the South,” he writes. “Keep in mind that to tailgate is to entertain; these recipes aren’t great just on game day but can be used year-round.”

He offers tips for planning the menu and packing for a tailgate, food safety, equipment, creating a comfortable party environment and dealing with waste.

Recipes in “The Southern Tailgating Cookbook” were developed and tested by Sally James. One recipe that might give Louisiana cooks pause is the jambalaya recipe. It may be tasty, but based on the photo it’s not Gonzales-competition worthy jambalaya — it’s too watery and filled with tomatoes.

Both of these game-day cookbooks are illustrated with full-color photographs. And, they both are fun books that football fans will enjoy perusing.

Cookbook signing

Kit Wohl will discuss her new cookbook, “New Orleans Classic Celebrations,” and sign copies at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave/, Metairie.

The event is free and is open to the public. Registration is not required. Members of the Friends of the Jefferson Public Library will be at the event to sell books to those who want to purchase them.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is Game Day Tuna Relish

Serves 4. Recipe from LSU football coach Les Miles and Kathy Miles is from “Taste of the Town: A Guided Tour of College Football’s Best Places to Eat” by Todd Blackledge and J.R. Rosenthal.

1 (12-oz. can albacore tuna packed in springwater, drained

1 tbl. Hellman’s mayonnaise

1/2 to 1 cup small dill pickles

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1. With a spatula, combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly blended.

2. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.

3. Spread the relish on crackers or on a grilled sandwich and serve with a glass of sweet tea.

Tailgate Burger Bar

Serves 8. Recipe is from The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, & the South” by Taylor Mathis, who writes, “Burgers are a staple of tailgates everywhere. A homemade patty cooked up over a hot grill is hard to resist. Topping possibilities for burgers seem limitless, but there’s something said for keeping it simple. all you need is the Tailgate Burger, buttered buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese and maybe a pickle slice or two.”

211/4 lbs. ground sirloin

11/4 lbs. ground round

2 tbls. grated yellow onions

1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

2 tsps. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce

4 tbls. unsalted butter, softened

8 buns

8 slices of your favorite cheese, optional

Lettuce, tomatoes and pickles for garnish


1. The night before the tailgate, place the ground sirloin and the ground round in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the onions, Worchestershire, salt , pepper and Tabasco. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together and form the mixture into eight equally sized patties. Stack the patties with waxed paper in between each. Store in a sealable container and refrigerate. Transport to your tailgate in a cooler.

2. At the tailgate, grill the patties to desired doneness. While the paddies are cooking, spread an even layer of butter on the cut-side of each bun half. When there’s room on the grill, lay the buns down on the hot grill and toast them. Allow guests to assemble their burgers however they like best.